DoD to spend more on pay, weapons

The Defense Department would receive $261 billion under President Clinton's fiscal 2000 budget proposal released Monday.

This year's budget figure is actually less than the $264 billion DoD spent in 1999. However, the President's fiscal 2000 proposal includes budget increases that span to the year 2005. According to the administration, these combined proposals total $112 billion in increased spending.

Part of the new funding would be used for a 4.4 percent pay raise to help with military employee retention. The proposed raise would be the largest the military has received in nearly two decades. The raise would also apply to civilian DoD employees. Clinton's budget proposal projects a drop in DoD civilian employment of 23,600 employees, from 686,500 in 1999 to 662,900 by 2000.

The budget also includes funding for the initial costs of two more rounds of military base closures, if such closures are approved by Congress.

"The new budget puts people first," Defense Secretary William Cohen said Monday, referring to the pay increase and other proposals to reform military benefits. Suggested improvements include rewards for military promotions and better retirement benefits.

In addition to improving retention, the administration said proposed DoD spending increases reflect two other priorities-crisis readiness and weapons modernization. However, Rep. Floyd Spence, R-S.C., chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said Clinton's proposed spending increases fall short of achieving adequate funding to support all three priority areas.

"The President continues to play high-stakes poker with our military's future," Spence said in a statement released Monday. He suggested that Clinton's defense budget was lacking by as much as $70 billion.

Clinton included DoD improvements in the administration's 24 top management priorities outlined in the budget. He repeated last year's budget message encouraging DoD to save money by allowing private companies to compete with government employees for DoD business. Clinton called for DoD to "revolutionize [its] business affairs" through streamlining, competition, and modernization. DoD will save $6 billion from 1998 to 2003 through competitive sourcing efforts, the budget said.

The budget includes $53 billion for weapons procurement in 2000. That figure will climb to nearly $62 billion in fiscal 2001 under administration plans.

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